February 5, 2018
by Canadian Architect
The greatest crime ever committed by architects.
— Dr. Robert Jan van Pelt, exhibition principal and University Professor, University of Waterloo School of Architecture
An examination of the chilling role architecture played in constructing Auschwitz, The Evidence Room is a powerful installation which reconstructs key objects used in the forensic analysis of the concentration camp’s architecture. Historian Robert Jan van Pelt introduced the objects as evidence in a court case to demonstrate that Auschwitz was purposefully designed as a death camp.
An evidence room is the place where evidence for a court examination of a crime can be securely stored until it can be used in the court case. Here, The Evidence Room is an exhibition that shows undeniable forensic architectural evidence that Hitler’s National Socialist government, the Nazis, designed and carried out the murder of over one million Jews at Auschwitz-Birkenau during the Holocaust.
Interior perspective of The Evidence Room with models of Auschwitz gas column and gas-tight hatch, plaster casts and model of gas-tight door. Photo by Fred Hunsberger, University of Waterloo School of Architecture. Source: ROM.
Extended until September 3, the Royal Ontario Museum installation showcases the ground-breaking research that became a source for a new and emerging discipline—architectural forensics—encompassing architecture, technology, history, law and human rights.
The Evidence Room, constructed entirely in white, focuses on the coldly calculated architectural decisions which culminated in a factory of death. Full-scale reconstructions of three key components of the Auschwitz gas chambers—a gas column, gas-tight door, and gas-tight hatch—and over 60 plaster casts of architectural evidence, such as blueprints, contractors’ bills and photographs, speak eloquently as silent material witnesses to the horrors of Auschwitz.
The haunting installation stands as a tangible reminder of the Holocaust, one of the darkest periods of the 20th century. The Evidence Room compels us to confront the devastating consequences of our potential inhumanity towards one another.
More information is available via the ROM website, and www.theevidenceroom.com.